Daily Bible Reading

If you build it…

Many of us can quote the whispered line from Field of Dreams, if you build it, he will come. Nehemiah was kind of the Ray Kinsella of his time. God was the voice whispering to him to build it. Build what? The wall surrounding Jerusalem.

Nehemiah, however, wasn’t an Iowa corn farmer. He was the king’s cup bearer in Persia. He’d never even been to Jerusalem. Yet, when he heard of the disrepair the city had fallen to, God’s vision weighed so heavily on his heart that he had to go. He prayed for strength and courage to approach the king. No only did the king allow him to go, but Nehemiah left with letters which would allow him to pass through other lands on his way and also gave him access to the king’s resources.

Nehemiah showed up in a strange city full of distant relatives and somehow managed to get everyone working together to rebuild the wall. How’s that for a family reunion? From the lowest of the low to the city leaders, with God’s vision set before them, they all worked together.

There are those who would say that the God of the Old Testament is not the same as the God of the New Testament.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)

God doesn’t change. The God that stirred Nehemiah, a lowly servant, to rebuild Jerusalem is the same God who is still stirring within men and women today. He is planting vision in those daring enough to see beyond themselves and today.

Christians who did most for the present world were those who thought most of the next.

C.S. Lewis.

There are those who build for the sake of building. They want the glory that comes with a grand structure. And there are those who build for the sake of the Kingdom of God. They want the glory to go to the One who alone can fill the structure.

It is time that the Church allow herself to be stirred. Time for those who are willing to be led by the Spirit of God to build the Kingdom of God. It is time that we strive to become the Church that Christ will return for.

It’s time to sneak a peek at tomorrow’s reading:

‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
In those days I will pour out my Spirit
Even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.

Acts 2:17-18 (NLT)

Are you ready to think less of this world and more of the next? If you build it…

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 1-3, Acts 2:1-13

Daily Bible Reading

Powerful

Who doesn’t want power of some sort? Power indicates might, strength, resources. Power produces change. It is forceful. It is something to be reckoned with. Some want political power. Others military. Some intellectual and others physical. Power comes in many forms and from many sources.

Do you want power just for the sake of having it? Do you want it for your own selfish reasons? Or do you want power for the greater good?

And David became more and more powerful, because the Lord Almighty was with him.

1 Chronicles 11:9 (NLT)

Only one reason was given for David’s show of great strength—because the Lord Almighty was with him. When God was for Israel, they were strong and victorious. When God was against Israel, they were weak and defenseless.

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Romans 8:31b (NLT)

When our power comes from the Creator, nothing can stand against us. Like David, we can become more and more powerful for all the right reasons. There is no selfishness in the power that comes from God. It is for your good and it is for the greater good. It is the power to overcome darkness. The power to shine the Light of the World. The power over sin and death. And the power that comes from God is a result of sacrifice.

Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

…despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Romans 8:35, 37 (NLT)

Overwhelming victory. That sounds like power to me. But the glory then, is not ours, but the Lord’s. As we discussed earlier, everything in the Bible points back to Jesus. The power that we receive through the Holy Spirit does, too. And that should encourage us since it is our job to point the world to Jesus. What better way to do so than to have his great power show through us?

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 11-13, John 9:1-25

 

Daily Bible Reading

Bonus post: Already passed

When you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, did you feel any different? Did you feel invincible? As though you could take on anything and triumph? Did you feel as though you’d live forever? If you felt any of that, how long did it last?

Ask anyone who’s been a Christian for more than ten years. Odds are that they do not feel invincible. I can guarantee they’ve aged since their conversion. And they’ve probably failed at more than a few things.

After being in the faith for a while, verses that claim we are more than conquerors can become challenging to truly believe. We may even begin to doubt what the Bible says about us, yet wait for the day when we can claim eternal life.

But did you know that, if you’ve accepted the incredible gift of salvation, you are already alive? As in alive forever? Never to die. I don’t mean physically. I’m not sure I’d even want to live forever. But that moment when your spirit cries out to the Holy Spirit a miracle takes place. That dry, dead spirit is brought to life.

I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

John 4:24 (NLT)

Already passed. As in it’s happened. Done. Not something we need to wait for. Our eternal life doesn’t begin when we die. It begins when we come alive in Christ. Hey Church, let’s stop acting like dead people who have no life! We have the Way, the Truth, and the Life living inside of us! Because Jesus is alive, we’re alive.

Daily Bible Reading

True freedom

Freedom is a word that gets around. Everyone wants a taste of it. Everyone wants to experience it. Everyone has their own ideas about what it is and what it means to them whether it be personally or on a broader term.

Freedom isn’t necessarily what you believe it is.

To most people, freedom is doing what you want when you want. It is completely selfish and self-serving and can often have dire consequences for others. Many who believe they are free are, in fact, slaves.

Jesus replied, “I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is a part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.”

John 8:34-36 (NLT)

When you equate freedom with the ability to do whatever you want whenever you want to do it, you actually become a slave to your carnal desires. The flesh must be satisfied. But here’s the thing, the flesh can never be truly satisfied. It will always want more.

Jesus offers a different sort of freedom. He offers a life free from the insatiable desires of our earthly bodies. He offers us satisfaction in him. He offers us freedom in him. True freedom.

In Christ, we are free to live without self-condemnations. Free to live without sin. Free to live in love and in truth. Free to be a permanent part of an eternal family rather than live an eternity looking for satisfaction and never finding it.

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 6-7, John 8:21-36

Daily Bible Reading

Will, not can.

CAN: to be possible

WILL: divine determination

Lately, I’ve found my faith being stirred. Whether it’s because of what I experienced on the mission field or conversations with old friends, God is stirring something me and, I believe in the Church as a whole. We, as in the majority of the Western Church, have grown complacent and lazy. Not everyone, but enough that the world has largely forgotten about us. We’ve lost our power. We’ve lost our influence. We’ve lost our drive. We’ve lost our determination.

We’ve lost the difference between can and will.

Before Jesus finished his earthly ministry, he left the disciples with a lot of helpful information. They obviously made great use of it because the Church is still around today. Let’s look at a couple of these tidbits:

I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me.

John 6:57 (NLT)

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

John 14:12 (NLT)

Let’s set the record straight here. Jesus didn’t say that we can live by the power of the living Father, he said that we will.

Jesus didn’t tell us that we can do the same works [he has] done, he said that we will.

The more I read what Jesus says I will do, the less can becomes an option. Can implies maybe it will happen or maybe it won’t. Will indicates that there is no doubt about it, this is going to happen. Period.

Jesus commanded sickness and death to go. There was no wishy washy little prayer begging God to do something. There was no doubt about Jesus’ own ability or the ability of the Father who sent him. There was no maybe. Jesus never asked the question, “Can I do this?”

It’s time that we stop thinking we can do something and start knowing that we will do something. Even greater works.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 20-22, John 6:45-71

Daily Bible Reading

Success!

Growing up in the church, I never ceased to be amazed at the excuses Christians will come up with for their own sin. I’m probably guilty of it myself. You hear things like, “we’re no longer under the law” or “I’m covered by grace”. While those are both true, they are not free passes for us to sin. Many believers are under the impression that, because Jesus came to fulfill the law of Moses, that we have no code to live by.

So then that was Jesus’ ministry for?

We read in the Old Testament of King Hezekiah. Finally, there’s a good one in the bunch.

He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did.

1 Kings 18:6-7a (NLT)

Don’t you think we could learn a thing or two from this guy? We can simply believe in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and basically use our salvation as a Get Out of Hell Free card so we can continue to live our lives however we want or we, like Hezekiah, can obey the Lord and see success in our lives. Shouldn’t the choice be easy?

Rather than the entire book of the law (which is pretty much impossible to follow to the letter), Jesus centred his entire ministry on two commands:

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 22:37, 39 (NLT)

Love. That’s it. No more excuses! We don’t have a free pass to do what we want when we want. If we dare to call ourselves by the name of Christ, we should strive every moment of every day to live worthy of the name. Jesus is love. We should be love. I believe that the greatest success we can achieve on this side of heaven is to live as Christ. So I will leave you with the words of the apostle Paul:

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ…

Philippians 1:20-22 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 18-19, John 6:22-44

Daily Bible Reading

Never too far

Have you ever heard someone tell you that they were too far gone for God to accept them? I’ve heard it more times than I’d like to count. My initial reaction is usually anger. Who told that person that they were beyond grace? Who allowed that person to believe that of himself? How did society come so far as to produce a generation who either doesn’t know God or believes they are out of His reach? Then I remember that this is nothing new.

The Old Testament is one story after another of people finding themselves far from God. They get into trouble—deep trouble—and then suddenly remember that there was once a God who saved them from an even worse situation. In 1 Samuel, we once again, find Israel in one of these situations. The Philistines have been picking on them for quite some time and they’ve lost a significant number of troops in battle. They cannot seem to get ahead of their enemy. Finally, as a last resort, they decided to talk to the prophet. Good ole Sam puts them in their place.

Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.”

1 Samuel 7:3 (NLT)

The easy thing to do when you feel as though God has a abandoned you is to blame it on God. After all, you’re practically perfect, aren’t you? What could you have possibly done to pull away from God? No, it was Him who turned His back on you. Israel thought like this for generations, but them Samuel takes a stand and tells them like it is. Get rid of the garbage! You’ve been worshipping idols instead of the God who delivered you over and over again. How can you expect Him to save you when you’ve turned to kneeling before objects you yourself made?

Humility can be a difficult lesson to learn. Obviously even Israel, God’s chosen people, had a hard time figuring it out. But the crazy thing is, every single time they repented, God heard them and responded favourably. Never once did God say, “No, you’re on your own this time, kids.”

You are never, ever too far from God. You will never be beyond His reach. Grace will never be the impossible dream.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 7-9, Luke 13:1-21